Ryan Suter has been ripped apart by media and fans alike. It is also been recommended that he be pulled from 'must-score' situations. Look, Suter is going to be with the Wild for a long time. His defense is superb and he does great things in the Wild's own zone. But he is just lacking offensively.
I could show you stats on how he good he is as a possession defenseman. I could show you stats on his point production being putrid. But that's no fun and we don't want to bore you to death with stats, right? Everyone can see how his shot rarely gets through defending forwards and his lack of quickly moving the puck to forwards that can shoot. It's downright maddening.
There were two plays in particular in Game 4 that he had good looks at the net and he chose, instead, to make a much tougher play than actually shooting.
At the 9:16 mark of the third period, Mikael Granlund corralled the puck in the neutral zone and broke into the Blackhawks' end with possession with support from Zach Parise. Granlund made a nifty saucer pass to find Suter coming in as the trailer. The pass caught two Blackhawks defenders flat-footed as the took Parise out of the play.
Here Suter has just received the puck from Granlund. Suter should have taken the shot as Parise did end up in front of the net as he fought off the two Chicago defenders. Granlund should have continued towards the net, but instead he slowed up. Had Suter got off a low shot that would have been tough for Crawford to handle and Granlund crashed the net, a rebound could have been there to pick up and pot into the net. Instead, Suter hesitates, the defenders close on him, and he decides to curl around the net and pass to Granlund who is still in the right faceoff circle. Here is the play in it's completion:
Granlund's shot was at a terrible angle and was able to be defended well because now all five Blackhawks are collapses down into the slot.
Another opportunity was later in the period. Suter finds himself in a soft spot in the left faceoff circle when Parise feeds him a pass out of the corner. Suter should take a shot here. It's him and Crawford for 15 feet with four Hawks defenders out of position. Granlund even comes in to the frame late on the weak side and could have been there for a rebound. Instead, Suter stick handles around the net and dishes to Granlund, who sweeps it towards the net.
I saw this play develop and screamed, "What are you doing???!!!???" when he chose to not shoot. Here is that play in it's entirety:
These two plays happened within all of about 25 seconds from each other. It was the same bad decision each time on the same fruitless shift.
Clearly Suter lacks any and all confidence in his shooting ability. There is no way a confident shooter passes bothe these types of glaring chances up for lower percentage type plays.
Suter is a good defenseman, but not pulling the trigger in crunch time is hurting his team in this series.